H.P. (Horsepower)

Premiered March 31, 1932, Metropolitan Opera House, Philadelphia.  Music by Carlos Chavez.  Costumes and scenery by Diego Rivera.

This ballet-symphony, composed by Mexican Carlos Chavez, was the first piece of choreography attributed solely to Catherine (though she already had been choreographing for about five years).  Under the direction of Leopold Stokowski, the 28-minute work in four scenes featured flamboyant designs by Diego Rivera, arguably the most famous artist in the world at the time.  It contrasted the industrial North (meaning the U.S.) with the tropical South (meaning Mexico), demonstrating how the two cultures were mutually dependent: in other words, how the South supplied raw materials (fruits, minerals) that the North would manufacture into useful goods for the benefit of all.  H.P. was performed just once (under the auspices of the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company) and received inconsistent reviews.  It did, however, attract a star-studded audience and featured Alexis Dolinoff, later a mainstay of the Philadelphia Ballet, in the title role.

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